UNLV vs. San Diego State prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Saturday night’s matchup between the Rebels and Aztecs.
When: Saturday, Oct. 8 – 10:30 p.m. ET
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
TV Broadcast: ESPNU
Let the slow clap begin. Exactly a month after picking up their first win of the season, the Rebels added their second tally to the win column. They took down Fresno State last weekend, 45-20, to open up conference play. It was a big win after UNLV had dropped its previous three matchups to UCLA, Central Michigan and Idaho. The Rebels distanced themselves from the Bulldogs with 21 points in the second quarter. A 14-3 difference in the fourth quarter helped seal the win for Tony Sanchez’s team.
On the opposite end of the spectrum lies the Aztecs, who are coming off their first loss of the season. After rolling through New Hampshire, Cal and Northern Illinois, Rocky Long’s team went on the road to South Alabama and lost, 42-24. San Diego State allowed 28 points in the second half to the Jaguars and was never able to establish the offense.
The Aztecs hold the advantage over the Rebels in the all-time series between the two programs. San Diego State leads it, 16-9. Last year’s meeting in Las Vegas went in favor of the Aztecs for their second straight win, 52-14.
What To Know About UNLV
With quarterback Johnny Stanton out for a month with a knee injury, redshirt freshman Dalton Sneed stepped up and got the job done for the Rebels last week. He completed 8-of-16 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown, but the real damage he did came on the ground. Sneed was a man possessed when he was toting the rock. Sneed shook, rattled and rolled all over the Fresno State defense. He even hurdled a guy. But the big moment came on 3rd-and-11 midway through the third quarter when he avoided a safety, reversed his field and took it 91 yards for a touchdown.
It’s not like he did it all by himself, though. Charles Williams added 153 rushing yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Lexington Thomas, who surprisingly only had 19 yards on 15 carries, also picked up a rushing touchdown. And David Greene ran his way into the end zone twice.
What to Know About San Diego State
The Aztecs received the usual support from their star player, Donnel Pumphrey. The electrifying halfback bolted for 151 rushing yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, but he didn’t have a whole lot of help behind him. Rashaad Penny picked up 62 yards and a score on nine carries, and that was about all the support Pumphrey got.
Quarterback Christian Chapman totaled -17 rushing yards as South Alabama recorded four sacks. Chapman also completed 13-of-22 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. That lone scoring strike went for 12 yards to Kahale Warring, and that was his only catch of the day. San Diego State’s leading receiver was Eric Judge, who brought in three passes for 43 yards.
Offense: San Diego State – Look, Sneed was highly impressive in that win, but Pumphrey is the real deal, and he’s the reason why the Aztecs get the edge. That was only one performance from Sneed, but Pumphrey has been gashing defenses for a long time now.
Defense: San Diego State – The Aztecs are ranked No. 44 in total defense (361 yards per game), and Calvin Munson has been a beast at linebacker.
Special Teams: San Diego State – John Baron has been solid kicking the ball, but the edge goes to the Aztecs because of Penny’s ability to jet his way to the end zone on kick returns.
Coaching: San Diego State – Rocky Long has more experience than Sanchez and led his team to a conference title last year.
Matchup To Watch
Dalton Sneed vs. San Diego State defense
There isn’t a lot of film on Sneed, but the small amount says a lot about him. The guy can scoot like a running back. He proved he can run and run effectively last week. So, the Aztecs will have to force him to throw more than 16 times this weekend. They’ll want to throw a spy on him at times and send edge rushers to keep him in the pocket and force him to step up into it and heave the ball. Sneed will have to hit his marks and protect the football. If he, Williams and Thomas can move the sticks on the ground, that can open up the play-action pass, and that’s where UNLV can really strike.
Spread: San Diego State -14.5
UNLV vs. San Diego State Prediction
Sneed is going to do his best to march his team down the field with his legs, but San Diego State will force him to try and make plays with his arm, and he’ll get caught in trouble. Sneed will reach the end zone on the ground, but he’ll get picked off a couple of times, and the Aztecs will take advantage of the flipped field. Pumphrey will, again, go over the 100-yards-rushing mark. He’ll cross the plane a couple of times and will help San Diego State jump out to an early lead. The Rebels will hang around by putting points on the board here and there, but the Aztecs are going to run away with it by letting Pumphrey fly by the UNLV defense.
UNLV vs. San Diego State Score Prediction: San Diego State 38, UNLV 21